While I am writing this in mid-summer the future is never far away from my thoughts, as managing woodland is all about working with the seasons. One of the biggest impacts is the effect of the climate on the young trees, the older ones having more resilience. The fi rst half of the year was one of the best growing seasons I have seen for many years, with the 50,000 trees we planted getting off to a great start. But, as we have all recently experienced, the lack of rain has had a detrimental effect on their survival, but the worst was the recent 38+ temperatures - the young leaves were literally burnt off the trees. In the winter we’ll replace those that die and, again, hope for the best.

One other aspect of the passing summer months is that the woodlands start to go quiet again after the frenetic activity of nesting birds and insects. It’s amazing the contrast from a spring morning, when the birds are literally shouting at each other, to a sultry summer evening when you can hear a pin drop. An exception to this rule are the pair of pigs that we now have in one of the woods. We are using them to clear rank vegetation to see if it will encourage the natural regeneration of woodland plants and trees. I’ve never seen such contented pigs, snuffl ing and grunting there way round their enclosure eating whatever takes their fancy – seemingly blackberries are a favourite at the moment, delicately picking of the ripe ones. The owner has even taught them to sit for treats! We have also been digging several new ponds to expand the habitat available to insects, amphibians and all sorts of other wildlife.

We have just started timber harvesting again, a mixture of thinning out the smaller trees and clearance of diseased ash. The produce will be fed into our fi rewood and wood chip businesses. We have managed to squeeze a bit more into the sheds in response to last years sales, but as we only sell what we can sustainably harvest we can only expand so much without detriment to the woodland. Please go to the website for the latest prices, we have, unfortunately, had to put them up due to a signifi cant rise in production and delivery costs.

If you’re wondering what the story behind the picture is, it’s a tree standing on the edge of a wood and is called the ‘Happy Tree’. Some say it was the shepherd who painted the face on it, others say it’s always had a happy face for as long as anyone can remember.


Working with the Seasons